Trail Guide: Steep And Deep in Tahoe

  • Expert Terrain in Tahoe
  • Heavenly: Boundary Chutes
  • Northstar: Sawtooth Ridge
  • Kirkwood: The Wall
Photography By Corey Rich, Jack Affleck, Rachid Dahnoun


Navigate the whoop-dee-dos on the rugged traverse to Killebrew Canyon at Heavenly’s far eastern end, and be rewarded with a playground of 45-degree chutes slicing through cliffs, powder stashes days after the storm, and pillows galore.

Get There:

Killebrew Canyon is accessed from the top of the Dipper Express. 

Skirt the top of Milky Way Bowl, and enter through Gates A–E (Gates 1–6 take you into Mott Canyon, another tempting playground that has more intermediate terrain).

Don’t Miss:

Face shots through well-spaced trees are almost guaranteed in the 35-degree, north-facing Meadows. 

Get your jib on in Pipeline, a natural half-pipe just inside Gate A. 

Cut right before reaching the end and drop into the Boundary Chutes. 

Looking for the edge of extreme?

Try The Fingers for pitches up to 42 degrees and several mandatory airs. 

Wrap up the day down Boulevard, a wide-open screamer.  


Head for Lookout Mountain to explore 200 burly acres. 

Recent additions of a high-speed quad and improved glading have distinguished Northstar's Backside on Lookout as an expert magnet.

Get There:

From the village base, ride Big Springs Express Gondola to Comstock Express to the 8,610-foot summit of Mt. Pluto. 

Head skiers left and fly down Polaris to Backside Express, where you can wear yourself out doing laps. 

Or make your way to Lookout Mountain’s Martis Camp Express for short, steep drops. 

Don’t Miss:

Sawtooth Ridge (off Backside Express) offers nine sustained runs—Tonini’s is the longest; The Plunge is the steepest. 

Bring your A-game and veer into the tight trees. 

Drop the fall line in Sugarpine Glades on Lookout Mountain for consistent steeps. 

You’ll love the powder days after a storm, which is why this is a local’s favorite. 


Situated at 7,800 feet high in the Sierra—about 1,000 feet higher than any other Tahoe ski area—and at the end of a box canyon, Kirkwood is poised to trap more moisture than most of its Sierra neighbors.

And trap it does, averaging 600 inches of snow per year. 

Add in its old-school emphasis on simply skiing (don’t come looking for luxury), and it’s no wonder that Kirkwood’s reputation as a hard-core mountain has persisted for four decades.

Get There:

Warm up in Sentinel Bowl off Chair 6, then come back to test yourself on Chamoix, a 40-degree chute skier’s left of the lift. 

Later, scoot over to Chair 10 and head skier’s right to The Wall, where short, steep chutes drop into Wagon Wheel Bowl, a spacious powder field (most of the time) that begs for fast, GS turns. 

At the bottom, look up and admire the Cirque,a craggy spot featured on the U.S. Freeride World Tour. 

Resort executives aim to eventually open it to the public and are currently offering guided runs down the Cirque.

Don’t Miss:

It’s a Kirkwood tradition to end the day on Palisades, the run that swoops Kirkwood’s six-mile ridgeline far skier’s left of Chair 6.

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